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The future of Iran, Reza Pahlavi's role, and the Israeli conspiracy theories

By Mohsen Moshfegh

In response to my 27 February article, "Has Reza Pahlavi Sold Out Iran," an article by Mr. Zarrabi was listed on Payvand's site on March 10 that reflected the same basic ideas as Dr. Pakravan's original article a few weeks back. Both articles shared the same basic objective, i.e., to discourage Reza Pahlavi's aspirations to lead the opposition political movement. What Dr. Pakravan tried to accomplish by branding Pahlavi as a traitor, Mr. Zarrabi tries to accomplish by trivializing him as an out-of-touch young man with questionable, if not out right treacherous, objectives. It is beginning to make me wonder about the recent surge in articles of this type as to why it is so important for these people to get Reza Pahlavi out of the contest for leadership of the opposition. Of course, Dr. Pakravan seems to have already made his mind up and provides a very clear, albeit hasty, answer to this enigma. He wants him out because he believes that Pahlavi is basically committing treason against our national interest by forming unsavory alliances with the sinister coalition of Washington neo-cons and Zionists. But, why then Mr. Zarrabi, who himself complains about the fact that "we seem to pay more attention to details when purchasing a car or proposing a marriage than in decisions that involve the destinies of nations" should so summarily dismiss Reza Pahlavi's relevance to Iran's future in two short paragraphs? That does make me wonder!

I did make it clear in my 27 February article, in response to Dr. Pakravan, that I was not a monarchist and have not settled on any choices for our nation's leader, or leaders, yet. I believe that the overwhelming majority of our nation, both inside Iran and abroad, share my sentiment in this regard. However, the main point in my article was, and still is, that we should not limit our choices before giving fair chance to individuals who are willing to go through the political scrutiny and are vying for playing a role in the crucial days ahead. For one thing, I believe that we could use all the help we can get to get rid of the current entrenched regime. I also believe that Reza Pahlavi's relevance and viability should not be under-estimated. However unpleasant to some, we must admit that Reza Pahlavi has a certain appeal for a sizable section of our young urban population, who do not have much historical memory of the pre Islamic Republic Iran, and do not share the presumptions about the Pahlavi family that most of us old-timers do. So, assuming that he is a genuine patriot who has the freedom and prosperity of our nation at heart, his appeal to our young generation could be just what we need to rid ourselves of this theocratic tyranny. But, I agree, that is a big if, a crucial assumption that needs to be verified. And that is precisely why I think we should provide for plenty of opportunities for Reza Pahlavi to reveal his true intentions to us before we reach the fateful days of social turmoil that lie ahead. As I mentioned in my original article, it would be unfair, as well as a self defeating exercise to make presumptions about Pahlavi just because of his lineage. In fact, his name, his past, his recognition, his affiliates and supporters, and his appeal could be just the winning combination that we need to bring a formidable force of Iranian youth together to topple the regime, and topple this shame we must.

Now, regardless of who -and it may not be just one- will lead us out of the current situation, the more important question is will we be ready as a nation to achieve and protect our freedom. Will we be able to rid ourselves of the outmoded and dusty old ideas that prevented our victory in the first place? I say again, that it will be our instinctive reactions, stemming from our deepest beliefs and paradigms that will make the difference between victory and defeat in those crucial days. While we still have time, we need to reexamine our political culture and throw away any unjust and distorted views of others, and of ourselves.

Mr. Zarrabi claims that the contents of my original article "is a reflection of the prevailing conventional wisdom in America, as well as the mindset of many younger Iranian expatriates." I must say that I only wished it were so. But, I'm afraid that among Iranians, young and old, the opposite is in fact true. My personal experience has been that an overwhelming majority of Iranians are staunch believers in the existence of a Jewish-American conspiracy to subjugate the nations of the Middle East. Just test this for yourself in the next Iranian gathering. The slightest mention of the Israelis' right to have and defend their homeland is sure to provoke the harshest response from almost everyone. They will all line up and wait their turns to patronize you and make you realize the audacity of your remarks. You are sure to be looked upon as so politically incorrect that you are either a sell out on somebody's payroll, or so na´ve in the world of international politics that you better keep quiet (and I'm being polite here!) and not make such foolish comments ever again; certainly not before you grow up and develop the maturity to see the world like they see it. "Which part of Mars do you come from that you haven't heard of AIPAC? Don't you see how subservient American foreign policy is to the Israeli interests? Haven't you heard about that evil Congressman Lantos?" And so on, and so forth, ad nauseam, they bury you under the avalanche of their version of the truth.

Well, the fact of the matter is that I too have heard of AIPAC. How could I have not? There is an army of Mr. Zarrabis and Dr. Pakravans to shove this down our throats every day. I really do have to have come from Mars not to have heard of AIPAC. But, after more than twenty-five years living in this country I have finally come to recognize how political discourse is conducted in this democracy and view AIPAC as a legitimate political organization, not the way Mr. Zarrabi or Dr. Pakravan see it, as some secret society of devil worshipers. AIPAC is a legitimate lobbying organization that represents the interests of the Jewish state of Israel without fear or shame, and extremely effectively, I might add. What? Are we faulting them for how well they do their job? You may not like their message or the degree of their success, but that is a different story altogether. And this democracy provides you with all the means and facilities to organize and get your counter message out as effectively as you can, just as some Arab organizations are finally beginning to do. Neither have I been blinded by the razzle-dazzle of the American life to the extent that I can't see the obvious alignment of policies between Israel and the United States. But, as I mentioned in my original article, the similarities between the foreign policies of these two nations could be a direct result of their numerous common interests, and not because one is subservient to the other, or unduly pressured by AIPAC to sacrifice their own national interests. Something is worth noticing about the intellectuals whose world outlook have been distorted by their anti-Semitic attitudes, i.e., they can never finally decide whether it is the United States that, because of it's domestic political binds, is subservient to Israel, or is it Israel that is, as they put it so bluntly, "the bastard child of the United States" to function as a mere military base in the Middle East. This bunch can never look at the realities with objectivity to see the simple fact that the two nations share a great deal in common, both in their world outlook and in the enemies that they need to fight. And yes, I must admit that I have heard of Mr. Lantos of California. And no, I am not on his, or anybody else's payroll. I am familiar with Representative Lantos's political views through occasionally watching his deliberations in the U.S. House of Representatives on C-SPAN broadcasts and I feel that Iranians, in particular, are greatly in his debt. Why? Because, I believe his unwavering support for Israel's pre-emptive actions for self-defense was most instrumental in that country's 1981 decision to bomb Saddam's nuclear installation at Osirak. Do you know why I feel indebted to Mr. Lantos? Because, in case anybody has forgotten, A few months before this pre-emptive action by Israel, Saddam had attacked our country. And it is as clear as day to me that the first fruit of the Osirak nuclear installation would have been detonated by that mass murderer in Tehran. But, thanks to Mr. Lantos's vision and his support for Israel's right to self-defense that mad man's dream of achieving nuclear capability was wiped away by the Israeli air force in time, and our great capitol survived the conventional missile barrage, however devastating it was for a few months. Had Israel not taken that heroic action to stop Saddam's nuclear program in its tracks Tehran would have turned into a heap of dust, with incinerated bodies of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors, families and friends buried under tons of rubble and a thick layer of radioactive ash for frosting. So, you see Mr. Zarrabi, may be it is time for us to wake up from our 25-year political hibernation and reconsider just who among us is na´ve and who is mature.

Mr. Zarrabi condemns Congressman Lantos of having made a statement that brands the Islamic Republic as "the greatest supporter of international terrorism." Well, I had not heard Mr. Lantos's recent remarks to that effect, but I wholeheartedly agree with him and I believe that the great majority of Iranians, who are not hiding their heads in the sand, agree with him as well. We are very well aware that our country is ruled by a gang of criminals that maintains its power by terrorizing our nation and is indeed the greatest supporter of international terrorism. We are from that country and we really don't need Mr. Lantos to tell us that in our country lawyers, journalists, educators, and students are tortured behind bars, while convicted criminal thugs walk the streets freely. We don't need Mr. Lantos to tell us that we live in a country where murderers of the "Information Ministry" walk into a freedom loving, gentle, and dignified man's home like Dariush Forouhar's and carve him up and his wife in cold blood. We don't need Mr. Lantos to tell us anything. We know it all, and more. Much more. So, forgive me Mr. Zarrabi, but I don't quite understand which part of Mr. Lantos's statement you had problem with. Is it because you deny its truth, or is it because it was said by a Jew? Mr. Zarrabi asks: "How is it, Dr. Moshfegh should wonder, that the anti-Iran opinions coming out of these agencies and think tanks belong for the most part to the supporters of Israel...". Well, Mr. Zarrabi, the answer is quite obvious if you take your head out of your sand box. Maybe because for the past 25 years the Islamic Republic's major preoccupation has been to demonize Israel. Maybe because we have an annual "Quods Day" in which we line people up to shout at the top of their lungs "Death to Israel." Maybe because the Mullahs have put the destruction of Israel at the top of their foreign policy agenda and rhetoric. Maybe because we take away much needed resource from our own nation to provide material support to Israel's mortal enemies in Lebanon and Palestine. Need I say more? What? We have all the rights to constantly demonize others and wish death upon them, in words and in deeds, but if anyone dares to utter as much as a word against us he is bought off and affiliated with some sinister coalition? That's ridiculous.

Mr. Zarrabi defends Dr. Pakravan by stating: "What Dr. Pakravan seems to imply is the influence of the pro-Israel elements at the service of the Israeli lobby in Washington. Here, Dr. Pakravan could have made a much stronger case for his views had he suspected that his point of view would be met with any skepticism." I rest my case. As I have been trying to make any objective reader aware, the Iranian intellectual community is so convinced of the existence of this sinister relationship between the Israeli lobby and Washington that nobody even thinks of being challenged in making any outrageous claims. Even if they go as far as dismissing summarily anybody's patriotism because of their attempts to establish a constructive relationship with the Jewish lobby, or even claiming that the President of the United States and his whole cabinet are bought off and paid for by the Israeli lobby. This is one of those paradigms that I keep saying we need to rethink. So, Mr. Zarrabi proceeds to overcome the deficiencies in Dr. Pakravan's article and attempts to substantiate his claims by providing a long laundry list of think tanks to prove his point on the subservience of American foreign policy to the Jewish lobby and the Israeli interests. Well, the list includes a whole host of organizations with totally divergent views on almost every political issue. I think that Mr. Zarrabi is just giving a list of all the think tanks that he has ever heard about, without having any idea about the ideology that they aspire to, or the political line that they advocate. This is done in a clumsy attempt to lend credibility to his claims, believing that when the reader sees a long list of names and organizations would be automatically convinced. Here, I'm afraid, Mr. Zarrabi is committing one of the greatest sins that an intellectual could commit, i.e., he takes his audience for fools, who would simply be overwhelmed by his long list of names, and without challenging him on the substance of his list, would accept the validity of his arguments. I just pick one of these organizations, Council on Foreign Relations, as a case in point. Last night (March 10) I was watching the rebroadcast of CNN's Moneyline With Lou Dobbs. A very prominent member of Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Richard Murphy, the former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was debating Mr. Dore Gold, the former Israeli UN Ambassador. The debate was on the issue of the Palestinian rights to statehood and Israel's settlement policies in the occupied areas of the West Bank. It would have been a very educational episode for Mr. Zarrabi and Dr. Pakravan, because I do not think that these two gentlemen, as anti-Semitic (excuse me, anti-Zionist) as they are, would have been able to rip apart Mr. Gold's arguments on the Israelis right to construct settlements in the occupied territories as harshly and effectively as Mr. Murphy did. He was essentially arguing that these were illegal settlements being constructed in areas that belonged to Palestinians and will eventually have to be turned over to a legitimate Palestinian state. He was very eloquent, and so relentless in his criticism of the Israeli expansionist policies under the current government that I do not think Mr. Arafat himself could have been any more hard hitting. So, excuse my "na´vetÚ," but I don't understand Mr. Zarrabi's implication by including Council on Foreign Relations in his list of bought and paid for Zionist organizations. Here is one of the Council's most prominent members, publicly defending Palestinian rights in total contrast to the current Israeli government's positions on one of the most sensitive issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Let us continue with examining this laundry list further. Among the individuals who, according to Mr. Zarrabi, champion the Zionist cause in America Mr. Richard Perle's name stands out. I agree with Mr. Zarrabi that Richard Perle's political prominence is truly on the rise these days and he is indeed among the most influential characters that are shaping the current Administration's foreign policy. But no, I do not agree with Mr. Zarrabi's implication that Richard Perle is a Zionist with extremist views on Israel. He is in no shape or form an advocate of the expansionist policies of the current Israeli government. I have heard Perle's views on numerous occasions, but one that I can put down here as reference is his question and answer session of 13 February at New York City's Regency Hotel, where he clearly elaborates his position on the vital necessity of creating an independent Palestinian state as an indispensable component of any just solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. His ideas are also in total contrast to those of the existing government of Israel. So, again Mr. Zarrabi is just dropping names to lend credibility to his hallow claims. The fact of the matter is that the President of the United States, along with every member of his foreign policy team, Powell, Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and everybody who is anybody in the current Administration have, at numerous occasions, announced their total opposition and disgust with the heavy-handed treatment of the Palestinian population under Sharon's government. But, of course, in the same breath they all strongly condemn the terrorist actions of the suicide bombers who have no value for their own or any other civilian lives. Aren't these enough examples to convince us that these people in Washington are not, as Mr. Zarrabi seems to think, bought and paid for by the Zionist lobby. What does it take to convince us? Do we expect President Bush to come out and serenade the "heroic" acts of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who take these young impressionable boys from when they are fourteen or fifteen and fill their young emotional souls with hatred and use them as human missiles when the time comes? Will we then be satisfied and consider George Bush a true "humanitarian?"

Without really knowing the root reasons, most of us just feel animosity toward Israel and support the Palestinian resistance. Most probably because what we generally see on the TV screens every night are the images of these young Palestinians who voluntarily blow themselves up to take a handful of Israelis with them, and then we see these tanks roar into Palestinian villages and blow up houses. That "brave expression of gallantry", that ultimate sacrifice of suicide moves us and that inequity of forces between the two sides instinctively compels us to defend the underdog. Well, so much for one of the key cornerstones of the anti-Semitic frame of mind, i.e., the total Zionist control of the American media. Because, unless these Zionists are totally stupid they would exercise their supposed full control of the media and prevent us from constantly seeing images that make their mortal enemy look like David and themselves look like Goliath.

I submit that our support for the Palestinians and our animosity toward the Israelis, along with our strong belief in the existence of some secret society that conducts the American foreign policy under the thumb of the Zionists have all been wrongly engrained into our national psyche and our political paradigms. "Israelis are brutal expansionists and the Palestinians are the innocent victims of this expansion." We hold these truths to be self evident, so to say. But, aside from the fact that they are simply wrong and distortions of the realities of the world, they are, I'm afraid, the very kind of assumptions that are very dangerous for our nation at the critical juncture that we are fast approaching. For, although they fundamentally shape our world outlook, we never bother to question their validity and examine their distorted implications and disastrous outcomes for our nation. I repeat here again, it is absolutely vital for us to take a second look, a more objective look, at what we all hold to be self-evident truths. We do not have much time for this very essential re-examination of our political paradigms, and the intellectuals who are, in one way or another, delaying this re-examination are committing the gravest mistake of their lives for the second time in 25 years. I don't want to say that they are committing treason against our national interests, because it is too strong of a word, and not necessarily true about the majority of the Iranian intellectuals who really think that way. But, I repeat, it will be the gravest mistake that we can make; a mistake that we will all pay the price of, for a second time around. And then we will end up with yet another generation of Iranians who will have no one to blame but their own ignorance and prejudice.

About the author:
Mohsen Moshfegh was born in Tehran in 1958. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineer ing from Oklahoma University (1981) and Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA (1988). He is married with two children and lives in San Francisco Bay Area whe re he works for Bechtel Engineering.

Related Article:

Iran's Future: The Relevant and the Irrelevant?

... Payvand News - 3/19/03 ... --

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